Title: Once We Were
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles series
What’s Left of Me introduced me to a different world. In this world, people are only supposed to have one soul, and yet some bodies keep both souls they were born with. It’s almost like a survival of the fittest, but in individual form. It was something I had never read before and even though there was potential for confusion, Zhang pulled it off wonderfully. So when I was given an advanced copy of Once We Were, I was excited and ready to read. There is so much potential in the world Zhang has created that I couldn’t wait to get started.
Once We Were follows the ending of What’s Left of Me right away. We’re introduced to the new world Addie and Eva live in, after breaking out of Nornand, the hybrid correctional facility. They have to hide away from the world out of fear of being recognized. They want to help rescue other children facing a horrible fate of surgeries and possible death. They want to be alone, but don’t know how to live without each other.
Addie and Eva are part of a resistance group, but they feel like they aren’t doing enough. So when the opportunity to make an impact presents itself, Eva jumps on it. As they get pulled further into the band of fugitives, the divide between Eva and Addie grows. They want to do good and help, but at what cost? What are they willing to do in order to show what is really being done to the hybrid children?
Not only are Eva and Addie divided when it comes to how to deal with being a fugitive, but their hearts are going in different directions as well. As Eva falls for Ryan, Addie develops feelings of her own. Neither soul enjoys being a background participant in these relationships, so Addie and Eva begin to disappear for greater lengths of time so one soul can have her private time. Even this causes problems, though. The only thing they can rely on is their trust in each other, but there are moments this is put to the test. Disappearing from your body only to reappear hours later without knowing what happened in between has great potential for problems.
The action in this novel was perfect. I can see the struggle Eva and Addie are going through, trying to decide what is right and what is wrong, as well as how to deal with the mounting pressures around them. They are two entirely different people, living two different lives, and yet they are one in the same. I find this struggle amazing to read. It could easily be confusing and frustrating to read, but Zhang has a way of making everything clear, while still making you feel frustrated. You feel for these characters and the fact that for years, one soul was considered less than, but now there’s a way to be equal again. It’s simply fascinating to read.
Once We Were is a fantastic sequel that doesn’t fall off the Cliff of No Point, like so many other middle novels have done. It moves the story along, but it has its own growth and plot. It takes the feelings from the first novel and magnifies them to a point where they can’t be ignored. Everything about this novel has me anxious and ready for the final novel. The story of Eva and Addie still has so much to be told and I can’t wait to read what comes next.
Thank you to Edelwiess and HarperCollins for providing an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.